Alley

 

The optimist arrived and said to the men
in mufti that nothing was so shattered
that it cannot be mended, but the atomist
among the derelicts said, no, quite
the opposite, everything can be broken
further, everything, and we are proof
of that, we have been left
in pieces, but will be smaller still and smaller
until we are the mote in the window light, the ghost thread
in your peripheral vision. But the optimist said
you suffer from a breath defect, you donít
breathe in, replacing the ill wind with the voice
of St. Jude, who was hovering at that very moment
over the barrels burning anything they could find to keep
warm in December, the derelicts I mean,
and Jude said, true, but I am principally
the saint of lost causes, and the atomist
wrote QED with the end of the ink
in a stolen marker on the windshield
of a long-abandoned minivan
and the optimist looked at this collection
of despair scattered among the ravaged
cityscape and walked among them
silently, signing with his good hand
to one man and then another
saying without words that, yes,
sorrow is a butcherís knife,
but hope is the first person
who ever loved you, however
briefly, and the gleaner of the group
arrived with burlap sacks and they lay
down, and slept and dreamed.